Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School, is the author of The Responsive City and Captive Audience. At Wired, she writes—Koch Brothers Are New Obstacle to Cities’ Broadband. The case of Louisville, Kentucky, is examined. An excerpt:
[...] The public benefits of jumping on the KentuckyWired offer would be substantial: Not only would West Louisville get a chance at better access for its homes and businesses, but the city could install fiber-controlled traffic signals, create better and cheaper connectivity for public-safety agencies, and ship data around inexpensively to improve its operations. In a nutshell, the city would build the infrastructure and lease capacity to private internet-service providers. "We were looking at this as our smart city foundation," Grace Simrall, Louisville's chief of civic innovation, says. At least half of the new fiber capacity would be reserved for open access leases, to encourage last-mile retail providers to wire homes and businesses. All for just the cost of the fiber lines.
It seemed to be a no-brainer. “I can't think of a more sensible plan," Simrall says. "I just didn't think that we were going to face opposition on this. We thought surely people would understand that this was a way for us to leapfrog where we were for a fraction of the cost."
But when Simrall and her colleagues went to talk to members of the Louisville Metro Council in May, they found that interest groups, including the cable trade association in Kentucky and something called the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, had been there already. Suddenly, the city's eminently sensible plan was in trouble. "The cable trade association in Kentucky was very vocal about how they thought that this was a waste of taxpayer money and had just spoken to numerous council members on the record about that," Simrall says.
Then Simrall and the city found out that the Washington, DC-based Taxpayers Protection Alliance had been posting frequently on social media opposing Louisville's fiber plan. (Typical tweet: “Google suspended its fiber efforts in many cities due to cost - now wants Louisville taxpayers to foot the $5.4M bill.” The Louisville plan had nothing to do with Google.)
That's when Simrall learned who had joined the forces determined to block Louisville from spending a dime on fiber for the city's use: Charles and David Koch, the brothers backing environment-hostile fossil fuels and funding politicians who dole out goodies to the super-rich. "It's widely known that they [the Taxpayers Protection Alliance] receive a lot of funding from the Koch brothers," Simrall says. [...]
At the end of the day, the Koch-funded campaign backfired. It helped fire up some council members who might not have understood the importance of city fiber; once they knew the Koch brothers were against it, the city's plan got their attention. "That felt pretty good," Simrall says.
If the Koch brothers were willing to throw money at opposing an incremental, cheap effort to string fiber alongside an existing state network plan, just imagine what they'll be capable of around more ambitious local efforts. There is a major onslaught looming. [...]
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On this date at Daily Kos in 2006—NY Times Self-Censorship, AKA “the President’s Press”:
Whether Bush's secret order to eavesdrop on Americans constitutes an impeachable offense is debatable. Whether The New York Times has betrayed the American people is not.
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
Let's get this straight. The NY Times has this story which, as it reports, has been confirmed by a dozen officials. It possibly had this information prior to the election. And when the White House asks pretty please can you not let the American people know we're destroying their civil rights, the NY Times says "sure"? Because, you know, Americans don't need to be informed as they go to the polls. Better to keep them ignorant and scared--and Republican.
The NY Times and the White House yank out the tired "national security" excuse for delaying the article's publication. But does disclosing the fact the government is spying on its citizens really tip off terrorists?
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